Beltway Poetry Quarterly

Plan B Press Issue

Volume 11:3, Summer 2010

In 2010, Beltway Poetry Quarterly teamed up with Plan B Press to celebrate our tenth anniversary. In this issue, we celebrate the history of Plan B.

by stevenallenmay

As with most publishing endeavors, Plan B Press began as an idea. Rather, as an extension of an idea. In late June 1998, I suffered a terrible accident on a mountain bike resulting in five broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and a near death experience.

Six weeks later, I participated in a poetry reading in the local library and afterwards, amidst the pizza and conversation, I uttered the words that would change my life: “Why don’t we have a poetry reading every day of the month of April, National Poetry Month?” The comment became an idea, which led to the creation of Bardfest in Berks County, PA and the formation of the Berks Bards, the supporting poetry non-profit which runs the festival.

In addition to these massive undertakings, I had it in my head that a publishing wing of the festival would be ideal to showcase the work being read or presented during the month-long festival. I discussed this idea with my collaborator at the time, Dianne Miller, who had taken a previous chance comment of mine and turned it into a poetry zine called Two Thought Minimum. She had already become an editor and publisher by bringing out TTM for two years prior to this new momentous idea. After some back and forth, we agreed to call our endeavor Plan B Press.

From its inception, Dianne Miller was the lead partner while I continued to organize and host readings, and was the point man for Bardfest99. Dianne headed the Press from 1999 till the Summer of 2003, having overseen the production of two Bardfest anthologies, a few other titles, and her own I’m Not Finished Yet…, the first book published by Plan B Press.

Things shifted from Leola, PA (where the Press was born) to Philadelphia when I moved to the city in December 2001. Once I gained a foothold there as the Poetry & Special Event Coordinator at Robins Bookstore, a Philadelphia landmark, the focus of the Press also began to change from publishing poets in Central PA and those who were part of Bardfest to publishing Philadelphia poets. This shift was made permanent with the publication of Plastic Sunrise. Not only did it mark the beginning of the new collaboration between myself and Katy Jean (Druzba) May; it led in short order to working with Philly-based poet Lamont Steptoe.

By late summer 2003, Dianne asked Katy and I to take over the daily operation of the Press, to which we quickly agreed. It wasn’t until Katy and I worked together on publishing Plastic Sunrise that we became confident enough to run the Press. We were able to publish two Philly poets, Michele Belluomini and Jim Mancinelli, just before leaping south to the Washington DC area in June 2004 so that I could become part of the first class of the new Arts Management program at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

From the Fall of 2004 till the end of 2009 we have published nearly two-thirds of our titles, a terribly creative outburst considering I was in grad school while Katy took a job working for the federal government. In the process, Katy pointed out that 85% of the poets we were publishing were at the beginning of their “publishing careers,” meaning it was their first, second, or third books. We had realized our niche. We had also become an “International Press” by publishing Anne Blonstein (of Switzerland) and Mark Terrill (of Germany). While it’s true that we still identify ourselves with Philadelphia, and we have published almost a dozen Philly poets, we have also published poets from across the US.

It has been our good fortune to have crossed paths with a number of important poets along the way whose influence has altered or impacted the development of our Press and most recently that person has been Kim Roberts, with whom we have presented the marvelous anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC. Not only does this anthology cement our tiny place in the annuals of DC literary history, but it once again puts us on a slightly different path. And so, we press ahead…

Table of Contents

I: Founding (1999-2001)

Dianne Miller
The Gifted, The Gift

Deborah Filanowski
Nature’s Lesson

Three Poems from Bardfest ’99
Erika Stanley, “Oh My Love”
Jessica White, “The Inconsolable”
Vincent Balistrieri, “Nep Tune Slip”

II: Move to Philadelphia (2001-2004)

Lamont Steptoe
from Uncle’s South China Sea Blue Nightmare

Jim Mancinelli
Channeling Rumi
Nine Ways of Looking at Something Found

Michele Belluomini
Crazy Mary
Look How Beautiful Her Garden

III: Move to DC (2004-2009)

Mary Ann Larkin
How It Was

Anne Blonstein

Robert Miltner
The Age of Ten As Point of View

Ellen Sullins

Jason Venner
Shutter Speed

Dan Maguire
Finding the Words

IV: Current Releases (2010)

Tony Brewer
The dead don’t get off easy

Joseph Kerschbaum
Prisoner of War

Michael Fisher
from November 11th

Four poems from Full Moon on K Street: Poems About Washington, DC
Tina Darragh,”cliche as place—rainbows”
Gray Jacobik, “Forgetting David Weinstock”
Tony Medina,”Cannibals on U Street”
Ken Rumble,”8. april. 2001″